Ludwig Bronze/Brass Identification?

Bongo Congo

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Just a brief question for the Ludwig experts: Is the "B" stamp over the tone control always indicative of Brass? Is the "BZ" stamp the only designation ever used for Bronze?

I have a 5X14 Supra here with the "B" stamp, but I could swear the metal is Bronze. I've examined it closely and it sure looks like bronze to me..... but the stamp is a "B". So is it in fact Brass? This is not a vintage drum, the keystone badge is modern, with the number 322XXXX. It's odd that Ludwig put those stamps on these drums, yet never made it officially clear what they were indicating. Only the collectors seem to know. :wink:

Not a life-changing question, I just want to know what this snare is...... it's a nice snare either way. I'm happy with it, whatever it is.

View attachment 18855
 

ERWinner

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I think I have a very similar drum. Has the B mark, but really looks like Bronze. I have a Brass Pearl snare and it's much yellower.
 

Bongo Congo

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jazzdrummer said:
This topic came up at cymbalholics: http://www.cymbalhol...om/forums/showt ... dwig+stamp

BZ = BronZe
BR = BRass
stamped that way since 1994 according to Rob Cook.

In contrast to the 70s when they had
B = Bronze
B = Brass

It's a very questionable topic. I have two Bronze snares. Both stamped with a B. 1988 & 1994.


Thanks jazzdrummer, that settles it as far as I'm concerned. I've owned both brass drums and bronze drums over the years... and if I had to go into court and testify under oath I'd swear this one was bronze. Now I know it's possible I'm not crazy. :wink:
 

K.O.

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If I recall correctly, in the early 80's when the non-Ludalloy shelled snare drums first came out (some time after the re-introduction of the brass Black Beauty) Ludwig switched from using brass to bronze for the shells, but it wasn't an either-or situation where you had a choice. They totally dropped brass in favor of bronze as the shell material. I don't know if that was for sonic reasons or production reasons, such as bronze being cheaper as a raw material or being easier to work with. At any rate that would explain why they would use a "B" stamp for both metals, since they only used one at a time they didn't need to differentiate, at least not on brand-new drums, which is probably all they cared about. Later on they did start to offer both metals simultaneously and that is most likely when & why they adopted the "BR" and "BZ" markings.
 

katfish

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I had an early 90's 5x14 Black Beauty with the B stamped above the muffler knob and it was a bronze shell. I removed one of the lugs of the BB and I could see the color of the bronze shell through the 2 holes. The color was a perfect match with my 6.5x14 hammered bronze supra.
 

blkcortex79

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Interesting........... I have a late 80's early 90 BB 6.5X14 which has a B above the tone control and like katfish stated in his post, I can also see the yellow color of the shell when I remove a lug, so considering what KO said I guess it's a bronze shell?
One thing is for sure it's A LOT heavier than my ludalloy Supra (6.5X14) from the 70's!! :D
 

superdrummer

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I am having this same sort of dilemma,

I just picked up a 5x14 Ludwig Black Beauty, serial number 3256391 with a tone control installed and a letter B stamped into it. I'm furiously trying to date the drum and I guess the serial number is from 1993 or 1994. Most serial number guides only reach to about 1979.

Anyway, I removed the hardware to clean the drum and there are a couple of "shavings" left over from the hardware drilling and I was a little suprised to find the metal was a bit darker than the brighter brass metal I had been used to seeing. I've had several brass snare drums, some Ludwig, most not, but the color has been consistent.

Not so here.

What can we conclude? Did Ludwig make some Bronze black beautys and stamp them B to differentiate?
 

troutstudio

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Bronze supras from 1980's have the "B". I think the easiest way to tell bronze is from the oxidization inside the shell. They usually have some. The bronze drums go greenish; I have never seen a brass Supra that was green . . .
 

veggo32

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Way after the fact I know but this might help others so here is some more information about that era BB's. Just picked up a used 14x5 Black beauty from what I believe to be early 90's (1993) possibly the first year of the brass reissued BB's. Large keystone badge, Monroe North Carolina and serial number 3185170. Inverted B over the tone control knob. This drum is definitely brass and definitely incredible sounding.
Hope this helped some of you, good luck to all.
$_59 (1).JPG $_59 (3).JPG
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I thought B was brass and inverted B was bronze. I have a Black B. in the similar year as you and need to double check my serial #. I was told it was bronze - I forget the stamping - will check tonite.
 

zenstat

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Way after the fact I know but this might help others so here is some more information about that era BB's. Just picked up a used 14x5 Black beauty from what I believe to be early 90's (1993) possibly the first year of the brass reissued BB's. Large keystone badge, Monroe North Carolina and serial number 3185170. Inverted B over the tone control knob. This drum is definitely brass and definitely incredible sounding.
Hope this helped some of you, good luck to all.
View attachment 379908 View attachment 379909
Welcome veggo32. Thanks for joining with your interpretation.

This sounds like another story in need of evidence and proper research plus references.

  • Have you used positive materials identification testing to establish brass vs bronze for the shell? If not what is the basis of your claim that it is brass? In the last few years we have ruled out "how it sounds", "it looks more yellow", "I took removed a lug and looked in the hole", and similar techniques to differentiate brass vs bronze shells as not being particularly reliable.
  • Have you got a photo of the inverted B please? I can't help wonder if all we are talking about is a worker sometimes just having the die upside down when it was applied.
  • How may inverted B vs B stamped Black Beauties have you got in your data? Do we know anything about the relative numbers?
  • What evidence do you have the inverted B vs B relates to the shell material?
  • What is the basis for your years for when the different shells were produced? Your claims seem a little different from Rob Cook's The Ludwig Book, p140.
    70s Black Beauties marked with a B are usually Brass shell, sometimes Bronze. 90s drums stamped with BZ are Bronze, BR are Brass
  • Yes time has passed since the last update of Cook's book, but if you have a different story it would be good to know the strength of your evidence. Cook has 1991 shells as Bronze, then 1994 to present Brass. He also has BZ stamped on shells in the Monroe period (illustrated on SN 3296329). I can confirm I've got a Black Beauty (SN 3393105) with the Brass designation BR stamped on it. So are you specifically talking about a period in 1992, 1993?
  • What evidence do you have for your snare being specifically 1993?
Since this thread was last active 9 years ago, things have moved on in terms of some research in this area. However, I don't think we have as yet established the relationship between serial numbers and production years from the 90s to present. I've also not been able to get a consistent decode for the "date stamps" which appear in some of these drums.

I'd love to hear more from everybody who has a Black Beauty with an inverted B stamp. More evidence might help us weigh up what is going on with these.
 
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K.O.

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When Ludwig brought out the Bronze shelled drums in the early 80's they switched the Black Beauty model over to using a bronze shell as well so there are BBs that have a bronze shell underneath the plating. That's why they didn't need to differentiate between brass and bronze at that time because they only made brass drums (Black Beauties) until when they only made bronze drums (both the natural bronze shells and the BB model). Then they dropped the BB altogether while continuing to sell the bronze drums. Eventually they brought the BB back and it returned with a brass shell alongside the bronze models. At that point the BR, BZ differentiation became necessary.
 

JazzDrumGuy

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My 6.5x14 Ludwig Supra is definitely bronze. Serial # is 3,285,xxx. It was a left over from Chicago and is badged Monroe. Legend (and credible sources) has it that they could not sell super sensitive snares so the factory converted bronze shells into Supras by adding a few grommets. Mine definitely has a Reverse B above the muffler knob. No question it is bronze with that dark copper-ish color and fantastic woody tone.

As for my 6.5 80's/90's Monroe Black Beauty, I don't have it in front of me right now. I traded for it and the seller said it was bronze. I believe my 5x14 newer BB is brass, and I stupidly traded a 5x14 bronze BB for it. This one is bright and less fat sounding......not my thing at all.
 

zenstat

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When Ludwig brought out the Bronze shelled drums in the early 80's they switched the Black Beauty model over to using a bronze shell as well so there are BBs that have a bronze shell underneath the plating. That's why they didn't need to differentiate between brass and bronze at that time because they only made brass drums (Black Beauties) until when they only made bronze drums (both the natural bronze shells and the BB model). Then they dropped the BB altogether while continuing to sell the bronze drums. Eventually they brought the BB back and it returned with a brass shell alongside the bronze models. At that point the BR, BZ differentiation became necessary.
Very consistent with your reply from 9 years ago in this ancient resurrect of a thread Kevin.

Have you ever seen anything about an inverted B from the period around 1993 and that it indicated shell material? The claim seems to relate to the time of transition when the Bronze shell was phased out as a Black Beauty shell (1991), and the Brass shell was phased in again for the Black Beauty shell (1994). Given the way Ludwig tended to have a supply of parts in stock, plus not care too much about details when they assembled drums, there might have been an overlap period. The way Rob Cook's book reads he isn't explicitly saying whether the shells were bronze or brass in 1992 and 1993, and he even suggests that some 70s Black Beauties were Bronze marked with a B. That could have been down to lack of consistent information when the book was written, or it could be reflecting the existence of a transition periods and/or mixed alloy periods. But the summary seems to be:

1977-1981 brass
1982-1987 out of production
1988-1991 bronze
1992 no specific mention but one could infer bronze (weak inference)
1993 no specific mention but one could infer bronze (weak inference)
1994-present brass

I'd urge others to read the passages in the book for themselves, as I'm trying to interpret it and may have done that in a way which doesn't do the original working justice.
 

veggo32

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Someone asked for proof, maybe these photos will help. As for having any solid evidence I don't have any all I can say is that my drum doesn't sound woody.
 

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veggo32

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Today a fellow drummer I work with came by with his modern Black beauty. We did a side by side and we both agreed that my BB sounds a bit different in that it's fatter sounding and not as bright. Most likely my BB is bronze, he's absolutely convinced I'm about 90 percent sure. Thanks to everyone for their insight.
 

rsq911

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93F06369-0B21-478F-AD36-6E4EA1D3B8A7.jpeg
I have a 89’ bronze with the upside down “B”, and a 94’ brass black beauty with no stamp.
 


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